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Processing Overview


John Resig has written a good overview of Processing. Processing is a data visualization language written in Java that has been compared favorably to Flash. I first saw the language a couple of years ago and was very interested in it, but haven't seen much on it until this.

Below is an excerpt from the post.

Processing is a data visualization programming language.

It has three components:

  • The Processing language
  • The Processing drawing API
  • The implementation (in Java - can optionally pass the drawing API through to OpenGL).

The Processing Language and API

  • Strictly typed
  • Has classes, inheritance
  • Includes a bunch of globally-accessible functions (the drawing API - very flat and PHP-like).

Basic Program Structure

Two core methods: setup() and draw()

  • Very OpenGL-like
  • draw() is called continually at a specific framerate (if none is specified then it goes as fast as possible)

Simple example: Drawing a continuous line with the mouse.

void setup() {
  size(200, 200);


void draw() {
  if(mousePressed) {

    line(mouseX, mouseY, pmouseX, pmouseY);

You can read the full post here.

Processing is a very interesting language and I could see it being very useful for applications that need a better way to represent information than is available in browser rendering. If you have never seen Processing, then you should look at some of the examples in John's post.